In the midst of an unseasonably cold stretch of weather in early January I happened to be looking into our pantry and spied some jars of peach pie filling I had “put up” way back in August; that time of year when baskets of ripe peaches abounded and I sweltered away in the kitchen while preserving the bounty. Now that work is a minor blip in my memory as I stare at the pie filling and imagine the taste of a homemade peach pie.
The recipe I use for my pie crusts is from a Mennonite cookbook. It’s delicious and the dough is easy enough to work with that I’m motivated to continuing improving upon my pie making abilities. As it is, each time I make a pie my techniques is a little better and I have less filling leaking out. Practice makes perfect, I guess. Though my family and I do enjoy eating each practice pie, regardless of how pretty they look.
In the end, the peach pie turned out just as I hoped: a scrumptious slice of summer, something to remind us of what we can look forward to while enduring a cold, dark winter. As we were enjoying our peach pie, my four year old son leaned over and told me he could eat pie everyday for dessert.
Recipe for Peach Pie Filling
(This is taken from Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006)). It makes about four pint (500mL) jars.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 tsp whole cloves
12 cups sliced peaches
2 cups finely chopped cored and peeled apples
2 ⅔ cups granulated sugar
1 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ white vinegar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Tie cinnamon pieces and cloves into a square of cheese cloth to create a spice bag.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, apples, sugar, raisins, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, nutmeg, and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Prepare canner, jars, and lids (here is a great reference for the why and how of preparing jars and lids for canning).
Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary by adding hot filling. Wipe rim. Centre lid on jar and screw down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, them remove jars, cool, and store.
N.B. While this recipe did not call for a thickening agent, other pie filling recipes do, so I mixed into the filling before putting it into the pie crust 3 tbsp of flour and 3 tbsp Tapioca Powder. It worked wonderfully; we didn’t have any oozing filling.
Recipe for One Double Crust Pie
(This is copied from my Mennonite Girls Can Cook (2011) cookbook. The page for this recipe is my most visited recipe and the book naturally falls open to the page).
1 ⅔ cup flour
¾ tsp salt
⅔ cup lard
4 tbsp cold water
Combine flour, salt, and lard. With a pastry blender, cut lard into flour until the size of large peas.
Sprinkle the mixture with water and stir with a fork in circular motion until there are no more loose crumbs. It may seem too dry at first, but keep stirring.
Shape the dough into a ball with hands and divide in half.Turn onto a floured surface and use hands to form into a circular shape. Roll the dough out until it’s a little larger than the pie plate, adding small amounts of flour if it sticks (I find it easier to put the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper – it’s a lot easier to pick up the rolled dough and transfer it into the pie plate. After the dough is rolled out, you peel off the top layer, pick up the crust from the bottom and turn it over so that it falls into the pie plate. Peel off the remaining plastic wrap). Trim excess crust.
Roll the dough (if you did not use plastic wrap or wax paper) onto the rolling pin and carefully unroll it into the pie plate.
Brush the unbaked bottom crust with a slightly beaten egg white to keep it from getting soggy.
Fill with fruit filling.
Roll out the second crust a little larger than the pie plate, centre over the filling and trim the edges so you can fold the top crust over the bottom crust. Pinch the two layers together.
Brush top crust with beaten egg white and make several small cuts into the crust for steam to vent while baking.
Bake at 400℉ for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350℉ and bake for another 50 – 60 minutes or until the juice bubbles through the slits.
Kingray, J. And L. Devine (eds.), 2006. Complete Book of Home Canning: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today. Toronto: Robert Rose Inc.
Schellenberg, L. et al., 2011. Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Waterloo: Herald Press.